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Title: Telephone interviews and online questionnaires can be used to improve neurodevelopmental follow-up rates
Authors: Johnson, Samantha
Seaton, Sarah E.
Manktelow, Bradley N.
Smith, Lucy K.
Field, David
Draper, Elizabeth S.
Marlow, N.
Boyle, Elaine M.
First Published: 8-Apr-2014
Publisher: BioMed Central
Citation: BMC Research Notes, 2014, 7 : 219
Abstract: Background: Maximising response rates to neurodevelopmental follow-up is a key challenge for paediatric researchers. We have investigated the use of telephone interviews and online questionnaires to improve response rates, reduce non-response bias, maintain data completeness and produce unbiased outcomes compared with postal questionnaires when assessing neurodevelopmental outcomes at 2 years. Methods: A prospective cohort study of babies born ≥32 weeks gestation. Neurodevelopmental outcomes were assessed at 2 years of age using a parent questionnaire completed via post, telephone or online. Relative Risks with 95% confidence intervals (RR; 95% CI) were calculated to identify participant characteristics associated with non-response and questionnaire response mode (postal vs. telephone/online). The proportion of missing data and prevalence of adverse outcomes was compared between response modes using generalized linear models. Results: Offering telephone/online questionnaires increased the study response rate from 55% to 60%. Telephone/online responders were more likely to be non-white (RR 1.6; [95% CI 1.1, 2.4]), non-English speaking (1.6; [1.0, 2.6]) or have a multiple birth (1.6; [1.1, 2.3]) than postal responders. There were no significant differences in the prevalence of adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes between those who responded via post vs. telephone/online (1.1; [0.9, 1.4]). Where parents attempted all questionnaire sections, there were no significant differences in the proportion of missing data between response modes. Conclusions: Where there is sufficient technology and resources, offering telephone interviews and online questionnaires can enhance response rates and improve sample representation to neurodevelopmental follow-up, whilst maintaining data completeness and unbiased outcomes.
DOI Link: 10.1186/1756-0500-7-219
eISSN: 1756-0500
Version: Publisher Version
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © 2014 Johnson et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Description: PMCID: PMC3983863
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Health Sciences

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